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The Phoenix Ring

By:Alexander Brockman

they took pity on the boy. “His wish will be granted, and his life spared. It will be a curse to you all.” They said to the vain of the tribe.

They were transported the easternmost continent of Ariyahn, the land of forests and plains. They found that they were beautiful and moved with a grace that even the deer envied, yet they could not lift rocks and logs that they would have found light before. The boy was healed, and the first thing he did was pull the illness out of his sweetheart. He found that he could not simply dispose of the disease, but had to put it somewhere. He pushed it into the leader who had thrown the spear at him, who died a day later. The boy set himself up as king, and began to turn his people into the best healers that have ever lived, yet to the leaders he showed no pity. And so elves were created.

The third tribe was cunning and greedy. Nothing would satisfy them except to rule over the other tribes.

“We wish that you would give us the same power you have, to make the ground tremble and the waves rise, to bring fire to life with our fingers and destroy those who hate us.” The Ancients, for the first time, were afraid.

“Are you sure this is the power that you wish for? It will come with a curse, and there are many other things you could ask for, such as wisdom. Nobody has ever asked for wisdom.

But the third race remained resolute in their request. The Ancients finally and very hesitantly gave them what they asked for. “You will receive your gift, but you will be cursed as much as the elves. You will not pass until long after the demise of the other races, but you will always wage war amongst yourselves, until every last one of you has died at the hands of another. Yet some of you will never gain the power, they will be stronger than you in every other way and will never be under your control.”

The third tribe was left on the middle continent, Gurvinite. They were called human, their power was called magic, and the ones left without were called amogh.”

This man is mad, Aidan thought. And he could kill me with his little finger. I want a knife.

The wizard was currently enjoying watching a line of fire ants (that had not been there before) run over his hand.

Aidan cleared his throat, at which the wizard looked up and the fire ants disappeared. They did not pop into nonexistence or even fade out. One moment they were there and the next they simply were not.

"Where am I, sir?" He asked in a small voice.

The odd man laughed. "Why in Fort Phoenix, where else?" he said.

Aidan cringed. Fort Phoenix was where the king's wizards and mages were sent to train. All Aidan knew about it was that it was high in the mountains far to the north of Gurvinite, and that the elders of the village spoke of it as a brutal prison where magic would be extracted from ordinary folk, leaving them lifeless.

The wizard abruptly stood. "Come, let me show you around your new home, here, can you read and write?"

Rose had forced all the boys going through the orphanage to read and write, and Aidan was no different. "Yes sir." He said.

"Well then you can take this," he said, handing Aidan a leather-bound notebook from somewhere within the folds of his robes, along with a quill. "And don't worry about ink, that quill will never run dry."

The warlock opened the door, where a boy about Aidan's age was standing. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and was a few inches shorter than Aidan.

"Timothy, I want you to take Aidan out and show him around, try to tell him as much as you can."

Timothy nodded his head eagerly as the warlock shuffled past, leaving the two boys alone.

Aidan stuck out his hand, and Timothy shook it with some vigor.

"It is so good to meet you, Aidan," he said.

"Er, it's good to meet you too," Aidan said, more than a little taken aback.

"How did you know my name?"

The boy went red. "The crack under the door is a little big, and I was standing outside, so I couldn’t help but hear a little…"

Aidan laughed, he liked this energetic boy.

"So where do you want to go?" The smaller boy asked, changing the subject quickly.

"Uh, you lead," said Aidan. Maybe there will be a chance for me to run while he isn’t looking.

Timothy promptly turned around and began to walk quickly down the hall. It was a vast structure, with many identical doors like the one Aidan had just used. Each door had a number on it, the one Aidan had just exited was number thirty-seven.

Another thing Aidan's mother had taught the boys was simple math, all out of a book given to her by a charitable noble.

"These are the boys' quarters," Timothy said. "The girls' quarters are on the other side of the camp, to keep them separated from the boys during later hours."

Aidan was shocked. His idea of a wizard was similar to Amilech or Malachi, odd, and with a long white beard. Timothy did not really strike Aidan as a powerful sorcerer, but a girl wizard had never even crossed Aidan's mind.

They crossed his mind now, and he wondered if they were as pretty as other girls. No girls lived in his village, but he had met a few his age as they had passed through. He had never had time for romance. His focus had always been on joining the Ranger’s corps, and he remembered with a pang that his dream had been forever snatched from him. That didn’t mean he wasn’t interested in courting an attractive young woman.

They exited the hall and came out into the open mountain air, which was refreshingly cool. Aidan saw that there were several odd shaped buildings scattered across a field that seemed almost too perfect. No building was the same, and many should not have been able to physically stand. There was a henhouse that seemed to be made of better quality wood than most mansions, with perfect white hens milling around outside guarded by a perfectly golden rooster. There was a cube shaped building suspended in the air by only one thin leg, with smoke pouring